News from Ukraine, August 14, 2023

August 14, ( Day 537)

Today I returned home full of good impressions and pleasant memories. My time in Birmingham was full of blessings. First of all it was the time with my daughter and grandchildren. I am so glad that God gave me this opportunity to come and be with them. During our special time in the evening one day I told them a story about the missionaries who came to Ukraine many years ago and they began to ask me every evening to tell them a new story about missionaries. I told them many stories about the work of missionaries in Ukraine. It was very special.

I also visited many churches and met many people. I have spent very valuable time with my old friends and met new friends. It was a great blessing. I am so thankful for the peaceful time and rest I had here.

My trip home was long, almost three days. I traveled by planes, through four airports, yesterday I arrived to Bucharest, Romania and today I took a bus from Bucharest to Odessa. When I got on the bus early in the morning, all the people there were reading news in their phones. Last night Odessa was attacked again by Russian ships from the Black sea. The buildings of five universities were damaged, there were fires and destruction in residential buildings. The people tried to contact their families to see if they were OK. I worried about our counselors in Odessa and was relieved to know that they are fine. Our counselor Vika wrote that the windows of the Christian University building were broken. Praise the Lord that the building was not damaged.

The bus trip was long but it was interesting and full of different impressions. It was a new experience for me to watch the people and talk to them. At the border with Ukraine, we were waiting in line for the ferry across the Danube. And when our bus, along with other cars, entered the ferry, all of us on the ferry felt that the Danube River was the strip that separates peaceful life from life with anxieties, attacks and the horrors of war.

During our bus trip the passengers of the bus were united in one big support group and started talking and sharing their stories. All the passengers were Ukrainian women ( men in Ukraine can not travel abroad now) who are refugees that live in different European countries and travel back to Ukraine for a short time to see their husbands and other family members. It’s interesting that in the beginning of our conversation they all started bringing the memories of the first day of the way – February 24, 2022 and told in details how the war started for them.

One of the ladies, Lena, was in Mariupol o that day, the city that was the biggest tragedy in the early days of the war. She lived there during three first months of the war before she was able to get out. She says that after seeing so many deaths during that time there was a long period for her when she had no feelings at all. Another lady, Tetyana, told that during the first days of the war she could not believe that it was really happening and tried to live the normal life, denying the reality when everybody around was in panic. Irina, the young lady, shared the memory how her husband took her to the border and they parted, she crossed the border and when she was on the territory of Moldova, she looked back and saw him standing at the same place. She still feels that pain of parting. Then the ladies shared the news of their life abroad, the problems they had and how they solved them.

During the 12 hours of our journey, we all became friends, at the end we joked and encouraged each other, gave advice, promised to meet again in Odessa after the war. At some point, when one of them remembered that today is an Orthodox holiday, it was very natural for me to share the gospel with them and tell the biblical story about this holiday. The women, who were mostly Orthodox, took my story very positively and wondered why they did not know this before.
As we, the passengers, were enjoying our time together during the trip, the bus driver was doing the hard job of driving when we entered the territory of Ukraine. The only road that connects the south of Ukraine with Europe was completely full with trucks carrying grain and other goods back and forth. But he showed amazing dexterity in maneuvering through traffic, using detours and secondary roads not to get in traffic jams and take us home as soon as possible.

I got off earlier than others, when the bus was passing my town, and all the other women went to Odessa. I said good bye to my new friends, though the trip was long and tiring, we enjoyed the time together. Sergey was waiting for me at the bus stop and we were home soon right for the time of our evening Zoom church prayer.

I send you all my best wishes and send you greetings from my husband and my church. I am glad to be home with them.

In Christ,

P.S. There are photos of me parting with my daughter and grandkids in the airports, the travelling on the ferry across the Danube river that is the border between Romania and Ukraine in the south, the photo of the trucks on our road and the photo with Sergey when he finally brought me home.